The Puppet Happening :: Mission
The Puppet Happening, Pittsburgh's new puppet festival and presenting organization, aims to strengthen the Pittsburgh puppeteer community by providing a support structure for puppetry performance. By promoting experimentation through collaborations with visual and performing artists of other disciplines, we aim to grow the audience for puppetry in the Pittsburgh region. We aim to establish a city-wide, year-round presence that challenges the definition of puppetry performance, promotes diversity, explores a dynamic scope of topics, and links Pittsburgh with the national puppetry scene.
Funding for Puppet Happening is provided by the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.
The Puppet Happening :: Events
Friday, April 12, 8pm :: Ishi's Brain and excerpts from Aristophanes' Peace
New puppet shows from Lisa Krause (of Baltimore's Black Cherry Puppet Theater) and Eamon Espey, plus Pittsburgh artists Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro present excerpts from Aristophanes' Peace
$10. ModernFormations, 4919 Penn Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15224. 412.362.0274
Ishi's Brain is a show by Baltimore MD artists Lisa Krause and Eamon Espey that incorporates shadow puppets, a marionette, masks and a liberal use of painted cardboard. It's based on a chapter in Eamon Espey's new graphic novel, Songs of the Abyss, published by Secret Acres. The inspiration comes from the true story of a man that has often been referred to as "the last wild Indian." Krause and Espey's version turns the story into a science fiction ritual where a lone spirit spends his final days and an alien shaman helps guide the dead into the next world. Original soundtrack by Stephen Santillian (of Baltimore bands Ghost Life and Thank You).
Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro will open the show with some excerpts from their interpretation of Aristophanes' comedic play Peace. Their new adaptation of the rarely performed, 2400-year old play is a work-in-progress.
The Puppet Happening :: Past Events
Thursday, February 28-Saturday, March 2, times var. :: Tonight A Clown Will Travel Time
Miniature Curiosa, featuring Zach Dorn & Murphi Cook, presents their newest show
$8 online and $10 at the door. Fe Gallery, 4102 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Clown, archivist, and amateur scientist Albert Billows has built a time machine. Disguising his garage as an exclusive memorial for the popcorn luminary, Orville Redenbacher, Mr. Billows invites an unsuspecting audience to participate in its initial voyage. Followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, haunted by a bloodthirsty execution of a lawbreaking pachyderm, and inspired by a mysterious woman from a century earlier, Albert Billows escapes to the past in order to change the course of human history and finally do something useful with his life.
Showtimes are February 28th at 8pm, March 1st at 8pm, and March 2nd at 7pm & 9pm. There is limited seating, so pre-ordering tickets is strongly suggested.
Saturday, February 23, 5pm :: Art Olympic Theatre
As part of the Mattress Factory's 35th Anniversary, join Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro as three teams of artists go for the gold!
$20 admission ($10 members). Mattress Factory, 505 Jacksonia St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. (412) 231-3169
A revival of one of our most popular events returns to the place it first started! Watch three teams of artists led by Julia Cahill, Nina Marie Barbuto and Christiane Leach compete to build sculptural installations out of the provided materials while you enjoy food and beverages, audience participation, games, and music. At 7pm our special guest judges announce the winning installation.
Come early! From 1-4pm, the museum is open to pay-what-you-can with a special community party. Bring the family, design your own party crowns, make scribble machines, go on a gallery scavenger hunt, share your favorite Mattress Factory memories and eat some anniversary cake! Admission to museum and community party are pay what you wish February 23.
Saturday, December 1, 1pm - 4pm :: Holiday Puppet-Making Workshop with Tom Sarver
$45. Click here to register.
Society for Contemporary Craft, 2100 Smallman St # 1B, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (412) 261-7003
Tom Sarver of Puppet Happening returns for an afternoon of puppet making. Students will create a painted wood rod puppet for performance or decoration. Basic wood skills will be covered, along with articulation methods, embellishment techniques and display options. Participants are encouraged to bring wood scraps or repurposed materials to use themselves or share with others.
Every first and third Wednesday, beginning November 7, 2012, puppeteer Zach Dorn will live stream a *new* short puppet show from his home studio. He will perform it in rotation over an hour. Previous episodes are available here.
Wednesday-Sunday, September 12-16 :: The Life & Death Of Little Finn
$30 general admission, $25 senior/student. Click here to purchase.
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. 10 Children's Way, Allegheny Center on the Northside, (412) 322-5058
CORNINGWORKS' presentation of the world premiere of THE LIFE & DEATH OF LITTLE FINN - a dancetheater/puppet show, for adults 18 years of age and older - is a collaboration with the multi-disciplinary Canadian COMPANY X from Nova Scotia, led by Marina Harris. This touching account of the life and death of Finn, one ordinary, mistreated little man, is told through original puppetry, animation, dance, and voice over.
THE LIFE & DEATH OF LITTLE FINN inhabits an intimately scaled multi-dimensional landscape, performed by three live professional dancers - Beth Corning, artistic director of CORNINGWORKS, Melinda Evans, former principal dancer with Utah Repertory Dance Theater, Marina Harris, classically trained dancer, award-winning choreographer, costume designer and writer - who partner two traditional 20-inch marionettes, three 15-inch rod puppets, one 11- inch hand manipulated doll, and other various moving objects, all hand made by Marina Harris.
Supporting the "live" action is an innovative use of original animation, also created by Ms. Harris, that runs throughout the hour-long production providing the moving scenery, commentary, and internal monologue for all the "performers".
The irony of an adult dancetheater/ puppet production, performed after hours in the Children's Museum, for an intimate audience of 30, promises a provocative, moving, and highly personal theater-going experience. A unique snapshot of memories and emotional ruminations that run the gamut from poignant to sad, funny to cruel — a bouquet of love's fickle serenade.
Presented by The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa
(The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa was founded by Murphi Cook and Zach Dorn.)
"Come see Frederick Ingersoll's lost spectacle, The Mystic River! Eat the very same hot dogs first premiered at the 1904 World's fair! Examine Luna Park in magnificent miniature! Luna Park's electric dreams came to a smoldering close in 1909. Over one hundred years later, two explorers came across the cinders of Frederick Ingersoll's fantastic Mystic River ride. This ride was Ingersoll's greatest work, and traverses his wildest dreams and most reviled nightmares providing a real live look inside of the brain of a genius of amusement. The Luna Park project is an excavation into Pittsburgh's past, present, and future. Take a ride on the hour long Mystic River spectacle for the fantastic Luna wonderland experience, then visit the gallery and examine the trolley park's artifacts. Bathe in nostalgia! Revel in excitement! Let the amusement seeker inside out to play!"
Funding for The Luna Park Project project was provided by the Robert C. Smith Fund and the Betsy R. Clark Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The Luna Park Project is also supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.
Tom Sarver of Puppet Happening returns for an afternoon of puppet making. Students will create a painted wood rod puppet for performance or decoration. Basic wood skills will be covered, along with articulation methods, embellishment techniques and display options. Participants are encouraged to bring wood scraps or repurposed materials to use or share.
Sunday, June 17, noon - 5pm :: Mattress Factory Community Garden Party
Free. Activities for the entire family!
Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. (412) 231-3169
Let your imagination run wild as you frolic in the magical garden with Alice and her pals at this year's Community Garden Party. Enjoy the musical stylings of the North Side Urban Pathways Sounds of Steel and the edgy sound of The Options. Emcees Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro of the Puppet Happening lead you through all of the arts, games, activities, and events during your visit to Wonderland.
Sunday, May 27, 8pm :: Beans! Beans! Beans!
Philadelphia's PuppeTyranny presents an original and exciting melodrama, a comedy of manners for a modern era long forgotten. Plus accompanying cabaret of salacious lounge singers and cross dressing troubadours.
ModernFormations, 4919 Penn Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15224. 412.362.0274
Suggested $5-$10 donation. No one turned away for lack of funds.
A Macabre tale, full of tom-foolery and folly. Two dueling dandies vie for social status as they throw an unexpectedly explosive party. Attended by a rag tag ensemble of guests that include unemployed falconers, aeronauts, avant-garde sand painters, a world famous chanteuse, and more. Three performers and two musicians blend animation, puppetry, music, irreverent cardboard abuse, dance and Lo-Fi shenanigans. Somewhere between Agatha Christie and Federico Fellini lies this satire of steam-punk, high society, and war. Some adult content and language.
Joining us, as opening act and musical accompaniment, will be the insatiable and experimental lounge styling of Charmaine's Names. Original Songs developed in collaboration between PuppeTyranny and Rosie Langabeer (Composer for Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theater Company)
PuppeTyranny is Philadelphia's premier purveyors of multimedia and object theater. A cross discipline collaboration of artists combine to create original and experimental works of theater and performance. PuppeTyranny seek to misguide and aggravate, as well as induce the shaking of the hips and the fists. Whimsy and Melancholy, marinated in craftiness and multimedia-ness, all in a soft shell taco. Beans! Beans! Beans! concludes a run of three new plays developed in 2011. The first, a farce exploring explorers, animals, and sandwiches, entitled BrotherSister + SisterBrother was performed as part of 70 Rupees to Paradise Road, a festival aboard the Tall ship Gazela. Then, as part of the 2011 Philly Fringe Festival, the sold out run of the microscopic adventure saga, Water Bears in Space, which, "may not be the strangest Fringe show I've ever seen, but it at least makes the top three." (Wendy Rosenfield, Philadelphia inquirer). PuppeTyranny can often be seen up and down the eastern seaboard, traveling with their World Famous Mouth Show, where they "stage a number of hilarious scenarios in a mouth". (Village Voice)
Thursday, May 3, 8pm :: Below and Beyond
Presented by Ramshackle Enterprises, The Missoula Oblongata, and Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. at Stratford
Pay-What-You-Can, $5-20 in advance or at the door
Inspired by the long-submerged Mill Creek of West Philadelphia and current debate about fracking in Pennsylvania, BELOW and BEYOND explores
the complications of what lies beneath our feet. Using puppets, pulleys, movement, and maps, the performance unearths the intricacies of extraction and recognizes a waterway that continues to resurface. Tree house, houseboat and bunker dwellers unite amidst an invasion of urban water buffalo. All this plus a one man band!
"...ingenious, poignant, crucial visionary work about complex topics, all the while never taking themselves too seriously. [They] are doing the people's work, bringing to light the issues that we need to understand, and presenting them with absurdity, laughter, and vulnerability." -Gina Renzi, Director of The Rotunda
The performance is geared toward adult audiences but is enjoyable for ages 10 and up. BELOW and BEYOND is a performance directed by Donna Sellinger (of The Missoula Oblongata), and created by Beth Nixon (of Ramshackle Enterprises) and Sarah Lowry (also of The Missoula Oblongata). Original musical score by accordionist Matthew Schreiber. Opening act: Layne James and The Bang Gang!
Saturday, March 3, 5pm - 11pm :: Luck of the Puppet
Puppet Happening takes on Vegas in a night of performance & spectacle!
Future Tenant Art Space. 819 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (412) 325-7037
See puppets in action! Make a puppet! Get married!
Puppet Happening enters its second year with a festival night of performance and spectacle presented as part of the Future Tenant Trespass Series. This event features a dynamic new format, a carnival atmosphere where puppet shows happen spontaneously in a mix of pageantry, live music and hands-on activities.
Shows and spectacle will range from the wild and racy, to the edgy and critical. Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro are the hosts. The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa (Zach Dorn & Murphi Cook) unveils Puppet Photo Booth. Book some time at Mime Share (Kristen Barca). Mr. & Mr$. Funky Vegas incorporate puppets into their rock show. Check out a Puppet Peep Show (Kate Mickere, Megan Morrison & Murphi Cook) or Liquid Escort 5000 by Scott Andrew and Erin Womack. Make Your Puppet Mate (with Rose Clancy, Brandi Welle and Kara Skylling) or get married by a puppet! Check out Dave English and Paul O'Brien's Big N' Scratchy, a critical look at scratch-off lottery tickets. Gabe Felice will be conducting Psychic Puppet Readings. Megan Morrison, Jeremy Frazier, Brittany Thurman and Sophie Hood collaborate on a performance, Body Language: A Puppet Seduction. Spontaneous art and puppetry will emerge throughout the evening. This is an 18 and over event.
Sunday, February 12, 1pm - 4:30pm :: Puppet Festival! A free one-day puppetry workshop
Course #[MM021212] Registration deadline: February 3
Society for Contemporary Craft. 2100 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. 412.261.7003, x25
Puppetry is an art form accessible to artists of all skill levels. Instructor Tom Sarver will cover techniques for planning, constructing and performing a portable puppet theater show. Visual and performing artists of all disciplines and curious others are invited to explore a dynamic scope of topics through puppet collaborations in this fun and free workshop. Tuition: Free, registration required. Materials Fee: $20. Call the number above, visit in person, or email the Society for Contemporary Craft to register.
Friday, December 2nd - Saturday, December 3rd :: Lascaux to Garfield
Gallery Reception: Friday, December 2nd, 6 PM – 10 PM
Puppet Happening Cabaret: Friday, December 2nd, 11 PM – Midnight
Daytime Reception: Saturday, December 3rd, Noon – 5 PM
Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. 5006 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224. 412-924-0634
Lascaux to Garfield features a small works art salon including the works of fifty local artists exploring a broad range of mediums and techniques. Works will be available for sale "off the wall" at the Gallery Reception and at the Saturday, December 3rd Daytime Reception. A portion of proceeds of art sales will benefit a Puppet Happening festival in 2012.
Exhibiting artists include: Sheila Ali, Alberto Almarza, Ashley Pixelle Andrews, Tommy Bones, Dean Cercone, Victoria Cessna, Matthew Conboy, Thommy Conroy, Murphi Cook, LEX Covato, Mike Cuccaro, George Davis, Tirzah DeCaria, The Dirty Poet, Sam Ditch, Zach Dorn, Kirsten Ervin, Gabe Felice, Irma Freeman, Claudia Giannini, Karen Hartman, Doug Hill, Jennifer Howison, Renee Ickes, Carolyn Kelly, Jessica Langley, Chris Lisowski, Maria Mangano, Jean McClung, Anna Mikolay, David Luis Montano, John Morris, Lindsay O'Leary, Organza Orgazmica (Scott Andrew, Elin Lennox and Michael McParlane collaboration), Larry Rippel, MJ Sadeghi, Nicole Sarver, Tom Sarver, Jessica Scott, Kate Sherman, Moshe Sherman, Kara Skylling, Steve Smith, Oliver Southgate, Jim Storch, Laurie Trok, Robert Zehmisch & Bob Ziller.
Friday Night Puppet Happening Cabaret Performers:
- Murphi Cook, Timothy Sherman and Ippei Mori (recent performers in the Warhol Museum's Pop Cabaret, I Put A Spell On You) present a surprise explosion of fickle fun.
- Mike Cuccaro: With a cardboard box and some old socks, Mike Cuccaro performs three short puppet sketches about poorly-considered business decisions, awkward first dates, and pizza-loving kitties.
- Zach Dorn: Utilizing archaic overhead projectors in unexpected performance spaces, Zach Dorn melds verse and shadow, carrying audiences on epic adventures inspired by conversations with strangers, shopping excursions and embarrassing moments.
- Joann Kielar: Joann Kielar performs The Girl with a Pony-tail, a lightly twisted fairy tale told by a demented big brother to an innocent little sister and recreated for the audience with shadow puppets and paper figures.
- Flora Shepherd: Flora Shepherd presents Little Red and the Wolf: Rematch. The legendary hooded heroine battles her infamous canine stalker in the woods to Grandma's house. Who will win? A hand puppet re-enactment of this lost story holds the answer.
Friday, November 18 :: Tonight, A Clown Will Travel Time!
Part of Light Up Night.
929 Liberty Avenue, Pittsbugh, PA 15222
Zach Dorn and Murphi Cook will perform a ten minute puppet spectacular on rotation starting at 7pm. Come see a time travelling clown! There will be tea and cookies and a clown. Photo from Lascaux to Garfield peformance, courtesy of Larry Rippel.
Saturday, September 24, 1pm :: Vegetable Island Rescue
Part of Your Place at the Banquet. Free!
Market Square: Downtown, Pittsburgh, PA
What happens when the children of the world send away their healthy food? The bad snacks take over! Can Captain Carrot, Black-Eyed Pete, and Anna Banana return in time to save the children from the clutches of evil? Find out as Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro, along with Unfinished Symphonies, present this puppet show as part of Your Place at the Banquet, a group exhibition at Future Tenant Gallery focusing on issues of food safety and sustainability. Free and open to the public, kid-friendly. There will be two performances, one at 1pm and another at 2pm, total run time 20 minutes.
Saturday, August 13, 1pm :: Vegetable Island Rescue
Part of the New Hazlett Theater Community Celebration. Free!
New Hazlett Theater: 6 Allegheny Square East, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, 412-320-4610
What happens to good children Fit Felix, Kind Kinesha, and Laser Lonnie when they send their healthy food away? They fall under the power of Pop Dragon, Monsterburger, and the evil Dr. Donut and get out of shape, hyperactive, and lazy! Can Captain Carrot, Black-Eyed Pete, and Anna Banana return in time to save them from the evil snacks? Probably not, but you'll have to watch to find out! Kyle Costello and Mike Cuccaro perform with the puppet creations of Tom Sarver as part of a free community day celebration at the New Hazlett Theater with fun, food and activities both inside and outside from 10 am to 8 pm. Puppet show at 1pm! Click here for more event info!
Thursday, July 21, 7pm :: The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army presents: What are prisons for?
Artists Image Resource: 518 Foreland St., Pittsburgh PA 15212, (412) 321-8664
The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army rolls into town as part of its whirlwind, month-long excursion across the continental United States to raise awareness about the prison system. The tour stop will include a few different shows. What are prisons for?, the feature show uses shadow puppets to outline the history of the Prison Industrial Complex, from chattel slavery in the south to where it is today. The other show is a modernized Hansel and Gretel. All of the shows are child friendly. The tour is being co-sponsored by the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective, a part of the books to prisoners network. Donations will be accepted at the show.
Sunday, June 19, 1:15pm and 4pm :: Vegetable Island Rescue
Part of the Mattress Factory Community Garden Party. Free!
Mattress Factory: 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, (412) 231-3169
What happens when the children of the world send away their healthy food? The bad snacks take over! Can Captain Carrot, Black-Eyed Pete, and Anna Banana return in time to save the children from the clutches of evil? Find out as Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro present this new puppet show as part of hosting a full afternoon of free entertainment, activities, and fun for the whole family at the Mattress Factory. The Community Garden Party is open from noon to 5pm. Come on down!
Saturday, April 23, 7pm :: Bread & Puppet Theater
Internationally-recognized puppetry activists present The Decapitalization Cabaret
The Brew House Space 101 Gallery, 2100 Mary St., Pgh PA 15203, (412) 381-7767
This latest edition of Bread & Puppet Theater's cabaret series features the Kaspars' interpretation of justice, an operatic argument about farms vs. jails, instructions on how to nab that alien, the can cans (and can't can'ts) of universal health care, and much more. The Decapitalization Orchestra will provide soothing sounds for winter weary nerves.
Several organizations including the Brew House, ArtUp, Puppet Happening, Schmutz Co. and "Joy Toujours & The Toys Du Jours" partnered to make this show possible. The event will be open seating and "pay what you wish." The troupe will pass a hat at the end of the cabaret.
As with all Bread & Puppet shows, a "Cheap Art" sale will follow the performance. This is a rare chance to pick up memorabilia, puppet how-to booklets and hand-pulled prints.
Founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann, Bread & Puppet Theater is an internationally renowned company that champions a visually rich, street-theater brand of performance art filled with music, dance and slapstick. Its shows are political and spectacular, with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard.
Thursday, March 17 and Saturday, March 19, 8pm-10pm :: Puppet Happening Open House Cabaret
Two nights of local puppetry for adult audiences. $10 suggested donation.
Glass Lofts: 3rd Floor Residential Space (A301), 5485 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Long-time puppetry performer and organizer Tom Sarver will perform Punchinello vs. the Schmoovaggios, a semi-traditional "Punch" hand-puppet show where the rascally and violence-prone Punchinello takes on his high-class neighbors in a fight to the death. Lewd and rude, Punchinello gains and loses body parts as he tangles with angry shih tzus, combative conductors, amorous ladies, and… unicorns?
New Orleans-native and lifelong puppeteer Flora Shepherd brings us In the Night, a one-woman puppet show. This dark, adult fairy tale features magic, hidden secrets, and a red accordion. A young girl is called forth to save one she loves from deep inside the forest. But first she must navigate menacing abstract shapes, unfamiliar sounds, and her own fears. Her journey is brought to life through a combination of string, table-top, hand, and rod puppetry techniques. Will she escape from the forest? or will its shadowy figures absorb her into their dark unknown?
Puppeteer Zach Dorn makes his Pittsburgh debut with Real Live Puppets! A collection of short puppet performances that employ the fashionable Victorian tradition of Toy Theater. Armed with paper dolls, a VCR, and a miniature stage, Dorn plans to entertain guests in attendance. Following the toy theater performance, Dorn will project moving, intricate paper cut-outs onto the wall of the loft space with overhead projectors from local Pittsburgh Elementary schools. Guests are encouraged to bring a pair of their finest field glasses in order to inspect the hand crafted quality of the moving objects in this theater of miniature.
Friday, March 4, 2011 6pm-9pm :: Puppet Happening Open Studio at the Unblurred Penn Ave Gallery Crawl
Glass Lofts: 2nd Floor Retail Space, 5485 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
As we prepare for our introductory Open House Cabaret, stop in to visit the space, see puppets being built, check out our art, and talk shop with local puppeteers Tom Sarver, Mike Cuccaro, Zach Dorn and friends. Find out what's going on with The Puppet Happening!